THE WORRIES OF PARENTS
A worrying parent is at once an exasperating and a pathetic figure. She—for it is generally the mother—is so undeniably influenced by her love that one can sympathize with her anxiety, yet the confidant of her child, or the unconcerned observer is exasperated as he clearly sees the evil she is creating by her foolish, unnecessary worries.
The worries of parents are protean, as are all other worries, and those herein named must be taken merely as suggestions as to scores of others that might be catalogued and described in detail.
Many mothers worry foolishly because their children do not obey, are not always thoughtful and considerate, and act with wisdom, forgetful that life is the school for learning. If any worrying is to be done, let the parent worry over her own folly in not learning how to teach, or train, her child. Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, is the natural procedure with children. It is unreasonable to expect “old heads upon young shoulders.” Worry, therefore, that children have not learned before they are taught is as senseless as it is demoralizing. Get down to something practical. I know a mother of a large family of boys and girls. They are as diverse in character and disposition as one might ever find. She is one of the wise, sensible, practical mothers, who acts instead of worrying. For instance, she believes thoroughly in allowing the children to choose their own clothing. It develops judgment, taste, practicability. One of the girls was vain, and always wanted to purchase shoes too small for her, in order that she might have “pretty feet.” Each time she brought home small shoes, her mother sent her back with admonitions to secure a larger pair. After this had continued for several times, she decided upon another plan. When the “too small” shoes were brought home, she compelled the girl to wear them, though they pinched and hurt, until they were worn out, and, as she said in telling me the story, “that ended that.”
One of her sons was required to get up every morning and light the fire. Very often he was lazy and late so that the fire was not lighted when mother was ready to prepare breakfast. One night he brought home a companion to spend a day or two. The lads frolicked together so that they overslept. When mother got up in the morning, there was no fire. She immediately walked to the foot of the stairs and yelled, “Fire! Fire! Fire!” at the top of her voice. In a few moments, both lads, tousled, half-dressed, and well-scared, rushed downstairs, exclaiming: “Where’s the fire? Where’s the fire?” “I want it in the stove,” was the mother’s answer—and “that was the end of that.”